Mexican independent candidate put back on presidential ballot after expulsion

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Independent Mexican presidential candidate Jaime Rodriguez will be on the ballot for July’s vote, the country’s electoral regulator said on Tuesday, weeks after he was dramatically excluded for not reaching the required number of signatures.

Mexico’s election watchdog INE said that its board would follow a court order forcing it to reinstate the on-leave Nuevo Leon Governor, making him the second confirmed independent candidate.

The regulator will also analyze signatures collected by Armando Rios Piter, who was left off the ticket for the same reason.

More than half the signatures Rodriguez collected were declared invalid, meaning he fell 16,656 signatures short of the required number.

Mexico’s electoral tribunal on Monday ordered INE to put Rodriguez back on the ballot, saying that his due process rights had been violated and that, had all his invalid signatures been double-checked, he might have hit the required total.

Fellow independent candidate Margarita Zavala said that she was worried by the decision.

“We can’t have a system where deception and simulation are more powerful than the force to do good,” she said via Twitter.

Known in Mexico as “El Bronco” due to his blunt style, the 60-year-old was the first independent governor in Mexico when he won the industrial state of Nuevo Leon, helped by extensive use of social networks.

Reporting by Christine Murray and Diego Ore; Editing by Sandra Maler